Sierra Nevada Corporation successfully completed its second free flight glide test of their Dream Chaser utility spacecraft on November 11. After being released from the grasp of a Model 234-UT Chinook helicopter, Dream Chaser glided gracefully down to Edwards Air Force Base in California landing with a little bounce.
“We had an outstanding free flight test and are very grateful to both our SNC team and NASA for getting us here,” said vice president of Sierra Nevada’s Space Exploration Systems, Steve Lindsey. “We are excited to complete this critical milestone and can’t wait to move forward with the program. This fully successful Dream Chaser free flight test gets us one step closer to space.”
The Dream Chaser’s glide test was conducted surprising early following NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, Bill Gerstenmaier revealing that Sierra Nevada would perform the test on November 14. With the company choosing not to confirm the test date, many believed that Sierra Nevada would delay the test. However, the company seemed intent on outperforming expectations performing a flawless test days before anyone expected it.
Saturday’s free flight glide test was the Dream Chaser’s second. During the first glide test, one of the spacecraft’s landing gears failed to deploy. The Dream Chaser skidded to a stop on its belly and suffered only minor damage. The successful test result on Saturday is, as a result, the first successful test for Sierra Nevada marking a huge step in the Dream Chaser’s development.
“It is very exciting that Sierra Nevada Corporation successfully completed this important free-flight test,” said deputy manager NASA Commercial Crew Program, Steve Stich. “The Dream Chaser team has done an amazing job preparing for and executing this test and the Commercial Crew Program has been with them along the way. The Flight computers and avionics systems are the same as the orbital vehicle so this test will pave the way for future landings for the International Space Station missions.”
Image Credit: NASA